Charlie & Hamish had birthdays last week! Hamish was two on Wednesday and Charlie was two on Friday. This generates quizzical looks because everyone assumes they are brothers. They were born on the same farm to different parents but they were raised together. They think they are brothers, so let’s not tell them, okay?
Hamish started out his day by boisterously barging into the aviary, Charlie sucked into the vortex behind him. I dropped my romaine and vegetable trimmings and raced them to the hanging poultry food bin. I can usually predict when they will bust into the aviary by whether the chicken food bin has just been filled. I hoisted 40# of chicken food up onto a table above sheep-snout level and raced back to the dropped treats where half a dozen hens happily scritched at carrot peels and parsley stems. Kitty Half-Stache made off with the plastic bag which is not a cat toy, either.
Afternoon Sheep Viewing is a popular neighborhood activity. We averaged around forty people a month in winter, but we had nearly a hundred in March, when the weather was a bit less ugly. That number doesn’t even include the dogs! Charlie likes dogs, and once they calm down and have visited a few times, he’ll get a nose bump and wagging tail from them. If any dogs get loose in the neighborhood, they can be found hanging around outside our fence, looking for Charlie. (Hamish is too sophisticated to care about dogs.)
We supply saltines, but the sheep also like Ritz and graham crackers. Neighbors now bring their own crackers and we’ve even had some kids come by on their own with crackers. This was birthday week, though, so we offered animal crackers, and gave boxes away to the kids who dropped by. Hamish isn’t too cool to eat animal crackers!
But wait, there’s more! With shearing day looming in our immediate future, I created a way to distribute some wool. I made Sheep Kits! A wad of wool, some pipe cleaner legs, a face and googly eyes, and a prototype toy sheep was born! Complete with Small Parts and authentic wool embedded with twigs and seeds, in retrospect I should have stuffed those bags chock full of wool. Seriously, I washed last year’s wool and have been staring at it for almost a year. Next month there will be more. It turns out I didn’t have time for a new hobby.
Last fall I gave away a small bag of wool to a neighbor who just brought it back, hand picked. It’s the softest, cleanest most beautiful wool I’ve ever seen! Just lovely, Charlie’s wool by the color. I have used a picker on some of Hamish’s bountiful wool, and it’s okay, but nothing like Charlie’s. That’s the story I’m going with, it’s Hamish’s fault, not mine. It does give me hope, though, and it’s very inspiring. Inspiring me to give her the rest of my wool, maybe.
The hens are laying, the ducks are laying, the goose is laying gigantic cartoonish eggs, and even the pigeon and doves are laying eggs. I made a little display of duck and goose eggs and gave away some goose eggs for people to play with. They have tough shells but poked and blown they last for years as decorative conversation pieces. I’m accumulating enough to give them away with practice spares.
Well, the sheep are a little disappointed that Birthday Week is over. I was surprised that they picked up on the excitement, but they absolutely knew something was different and special and all about sheep. I’ll see what I can come up with for Fourth of July. Until then, there’s always shearing to look forward to, and that fun game called wool washing!